The surfing medalists have been crowned at the 14th Edition of the Pacific Games, held at Passe de Ouarai at Ouano (La Foa), New Caledonia. The locals stepped up into the big three Pacific Surfing Powers, meeting Tahiti and Fiji with newcomers Guam and Papua New Guinea also pushing their claims into the final medal rounds.
Competition increased momentum as the event moved through three qualifying rounds for the semi-final places in the three categories of Shortboard Open Men and Women and Longboard. Consistent four foot set waves throughout the three-day event peeled hollow and fast along the reef, providing the perfect setting for surfing athletes to impress the judges.
It was obvious to everyone attending that the standard of surfing in this region has skyrocketed since the last Games in Samoa in 2007.
The Grand Finals decided the Gold and Silver medal winners, to excite the fans in the flotilla of boats bordering the reef’s edge.
The Longboarders hit the water first. Heifara Tahutini (TAH) registered a high early score, leaving Remy Darkis (NCL) waiting for a good wave of his own to mount a challenge. Tahutini showed all the skills of the champion. Good wave selection, strong turns in critical sections of the waves, floaters and nose rides all got their turn in his repertoire.
Darkis worked hard on lesser waves, taking it to his limits with multiple carving turns and nose rides. Tahutini picked off a heat-winning wave in the late stages of the final, racing the critical sections the length of the reef with aggressive moves to win the Gold.
The Women’s final saw Jenna Cinedrawa (NCL) take the initiative with a good early wave that was topped by Patricia Rossi (TAH), who managed to do a couple of critical turns. Cinedrawa then forged ahead with additional set waves and an attacking approach of power turning and re-entries. Rossi fought back again, showing the skills and courage of the seasoned competitor she is but fell short on the bell as she rode her last wave. Cinedrawa’s wave selection, powerful paddling, aggressive attitude to the wave, carving turns and flow, helped her take the Gold.
The Men’s final was a fitting conclusion to the program of the day. Jolcelyn Poulou (TAH) showed his waterman’s skills to find the best waves, displaying a vertical and powerful approach of strong bottom turns, lip line turns and floaters to set up his high scores. Jordan David (NCL) surfed tight and fast but couldn’t find the scores he needed on the smaller waves. Poulou threw himself around on the set waves aggressively, defying the sections with snaps and floaters, taking a well deserved Gold medal.
A medal ceremony was held onshore attended by representatives of the Organizing Committee for the Pacific Games and local government and community of La Foa.
Teams attending were Tahiti, New Caledonia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Guam, Vanuatu and Kiribati. All athletes lived on site at the Ouano Surf Lodge throughout the event, providing a great opportunity for a cultural surfing exchange for the region. Local surf taxi boatmen ferried athletes and public to the site where a large boat served as spectator podium.
The success of this event has set the scene for increased surfing activity in the region and set a benchmark for surfing as dependable and valid sporting contributor to the Pacific Games program.
1 Heifara Tahutini [TAH] GOLD MEDAL 17.02
2 Remy Darkis [NC] SILVER MEDAL 12.80
3 Ian Muller [FIJ] BRONZE MEDAL
4 Titima Mange [PNG]
1 Jenna Cinedrawa [NC] GOLD MEDAL 11.10
2 Patricia Rossi [Tah] SILVER MEDAL 10.87
3 Kim Bennett [FJI] BRONZE MEDAL
4 Elizabeth Nakos [PNG]
1 Jocelyn Poulou [TAH] GOLD MEDAL 18.37
2 Jordan David [NC] SILVER MEDAL 13.56
3 Aca Ravulo Labalaba [FIJ] BRONZE MEDAL
4 Cheyne Purcell [GUA]
The event was presented by the New Caledonia Surfing League and featured a floating two level judging platform that housed the judging computer system and judging panel on top and marshaling area below at water level.
Passe de Ouarai is on the outer reef about 6 miles directly by boat from the Ouano Surf Lodge that was used as the home base for thee event. Live vision was relayed to shore by wireless and digital photographs provided to web media by a dedicated media team.
The International Surfing Association and Federation Française de Surf provided a Technical Delegate and Head Judge to support the event.
A full digital coverage is available at www.merpassion.com.
Press release compiled by ISA Vice President and Pacific Games Surfing Tournament Technical Director Alan Atkins.